Monday, April 15, 2013

Interview + Giveaway with Jay Kristoff, author of Stormdancer

Our guest today at Bookish is the supremely talented Jay Kristoff, the author of the fantastically imagined Japanese-inspired steampunk novel, Stormdancer!

I absolutely LOVED Stormdancer. It was a killer story - badass, entertaining and just so beautiful! With gorgeous cultural and mythological backdrop and a splash of delicious steampunk, this book rocked my socks off! It's a must read!

Click here to read my rave review of Stormdancer!

1. Welcome to Bookish Jay!  Could you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind Stormdancer?

Thanks for having me! :)
The initial inspiration was a dream (which is a boring answer and no help to anyone, I know). I dreamed about a little boy trying to teach a griffin to fly in a field of dying grass. The griffin had broken wings and couldn’t get airborne, but this lad was screaming at it nevertheless, trying to make it move. He was a bit of a brat, now I think about it…
Anyways, I was querying my first novel at the time (which was meeting with the same success fluffy bunnies meet when querying moving cars with their faces). The dream-interpreter types among my friends tell me that the shouty little brat was me, and the griffin was my first book, which wasn’t going to get off the ground no matter how much I yelled. Which turned out to be true.
But that image of a griffin with broken wings and dying grass stuck in my head. So here we are :)

2. How long did it take you to write it? 

I’d guess around six months or so? I actually trunked it at one point – my first novel had been this dark and angsty vampire thing, and I felt a little silly moving on to a story about a magical friendship between a teenaged girl and her griffin buddy. But something about the story pulled me back in.
I’m like Al Pacino. With less Oscars.

3. Which part of Stormdancer was the hardest for you to write? Have you experienced any "writer's blocks"? If so, how did you deal with them?

I’d say at the time it was the second act. Second acts are always tricky - everything is established, you’re working towards the climax, but you can’t actually go there yet. Everyone just wants to get to the fireworks factoryyyyyy.
I’ve never really had writer’s block - as in, where I couldn’t think of anything to write. I’ve had moments where everything I write dripped with pure suck, sure. I had a little tantrum on my couch a few weeks back actually, all flailing arms and rainbow-hued profanity and whatnot. Scared the bejeezus out of the dog.
But sure enough, after a day or two, it went away and I came up with the answers. I’m not sure there’s any real cure for it except “keep writing”. I know, I know - everyone has heard that advice before. As far as doling out the profound wisdom, a crappy Yoda, I make, mmmmm.

4. What do you hope readers will take away from reading Stormdancer?

It’s maybe a little presumptuous of me to expect them to take away anything? There are themes within Stormdancer, but they’re not the purpose of the book, if that makes sense. If you want to look for deeper meaning, you can – it’s there. But ultimately, I just hope readers enjoy it. I hope people have fun and feel like their time spent in my tiny sandbox wasn’t time better doing their nails or watching Michael Bay movies.

5. What is your favorite part of the writing process? Least favorite?

I like surprising myself. My favourite parts of Stormdancer are the twists I didn’t see coming. You have everything planned, and then you ask “What if…’ and all of a sudden the story has jumped on a motorcycle with some strange chap named “Duke” and is headed to Tijuana for the weekend. That’s where the magic happens.
(surprising myself, not Tijuana)
My least favourite is probably copy-editing. This is the part of editing where you pick up a pair of tweezers and comb your manuscript in search of lice. Typos and missing words; spelling mistakes (trust me, it happens even at this stage) ; your inexplicable; and improper; use; of ;;semi-colons, and




I’m no good at it. I find myself deleting and re-inserting the same comma twenty times, reading the same sentence aloud until I see through time, my dreams haunted by rampaging flash mobs of apostrophes and exclamation marks hungering for the sweet, gamey tang of human flesh.

6. How do you approach writing a new story? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Pantser all the way. Plotting to me it feels like you lose some of the spontaneity. All those motorcycle trips to Tijuana.

That said, plotting does save you an awful lot of time. My next book in the Lotus War series, KINSLAYER, is about 160,000 words, but I’d estimate I wrote about 400,000 to get it to that point.

The deleted scenes folder is looking…. well-fed :)

7. Would you say that your life changed a lot after you got your publishing deal with Thomas Dunne Books? How did that feel?

Absolutely. Your life doesn’t change in the sense that you still have to put pants on every day (unless you want to get arrested) and you still need to breathe and eat pizza and whatnot. But it gave me a huge sense of purpose – knowing this thing was actually going to hit shelves, people were going to read it. It ceased being a concept at that point. It was scary, but awesome. And now I get to speak to readers who send me artwork and poems and all kinds of cool stuff. People who live in countries I’ve never visited read my words and tell me how much the book meant to them – it’s sincerely amazing. I feel very lucky.

As for how the deal felt at the time - it was a validation of years of hard work. Proof that I wasn’t crazy – that those countless hours I’d spent alone in front of the computer when everyone else was out having way too much fun weren’t for nothing. I played air guitar for about 20 minutes straight. It’s no doubt one of the coolest, most amazing things that has ever happened to me. I still can’t quite believe it.

8. What are some of your literary inspirations? Favorite books/authors?

William Gibson. Phillip K Dick. Isaac Asimov. Robin Hobb. Raymond Feist. China Mieville. Piers Anthony. Robert Heinlen. Frank Herbert. Ray Bradbury. Stephen King. Neil Gaiman. Stan Lee. Katsuhiro Otomo.

My favourite book is Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.

9. What's next in line for you? When can we expect to see the sequel to Stormdancer?

KINSLAYER is out in September 2013, which I’m getting awfully excited about. I know it’s a terribly overused word, but the sequel is more epic than STORMDANCER. The story and stakes are bigger and far more dangerous.

Events pick up right after we left off. The Imperium is in a state of collapse after the events of the first book. Yukiko is trying to come to grips with the idea of being a hero, but her power to speak to animals is swelling beyond her ability to control. And then some bad stuff happens I probably shouldn’t spoil for you and all hells break lose. We get to meet a couple of new friends, old enemies, new settings. We find out more about Buruu’s history and more about the gaijin war. And of course we have betrayals and murder and some huge battles thrown in for good measure.

Plus, I just saw the final cover artwork this morning and it’s amazing. The reveal will be happening in early May, and we have a ton of ARCs to giveaway, so keep an eye on my blog.

I’ve also just written a novella set in the Lotus War world. Set 100 years before the events of STORMDANCER, it tells the story of why the thunder tigers left Shima. Anyone who pre-orders a copy of KINSLAYER will get the novella for free. So if you feel the urge to click, here’s the link :)

Thank you so much Jay for joining us here today! I can't wait for the next book in your epic series!

Jay Kristoff is a totally badass YA Galaxy Defender! Check out Jay' MIYA-style photo:

(this is an exclusive MEN in YA2 photo that will be printed on the 2014 MEN in YA Calendar. You can enter to win one of two (1 of 2) copies of the exclusive calendar here, at Bookish, on April 30th). 

Author bio:
Jay Kristoff grew up in the most isolated capital city on earth and fled at his earliest convenience, although he’s been known to trek back for weddings of the particularly nice and funerals of the particularly wealthy. He spent most of his formative years locked in his bedroom with piles of books, or gathered around dimly-lit tables rolling polyhedral dice. Being the holder of an Arts degree, he has no education to speak of.

Jay’s debut novel, STORMDANCER, a Japanese-inspired steampunk fantasy, will be published by Thomas Dunne/St Martin's Press, Tor UK & PanMacMillan in September 2012 as the first installment of THE LOTUS WAR trilogy.

Jay is 6’7 and has approximately 13870 days to live. He abides in Melbourne with his secret agent kung-fu assassin wife, and the world’s laziest Jack Russell.

He does not believe in happy endings.
Website | Facebook | Twitter 

WHAT YOU CAN WIN:  2 x Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
OPEN TO: Canada & US
Ends: May 25th

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This interview and giveaway is posted as part of: 

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